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The seldom seen Seldom Creek Falls is flowing after several dry years. Photo by Lee Juillerat

Seldom Creek Falls are seldom seen

The name fits.

Seldom Creek Falls is the perfect name because there is seldom enough water flowing down the creek to create a falls, and because the out-of-the-way falls are seldom visited.

Seldom Creek Falls isn't listed on the Oregon waterfalls list. The usually comprehensive book "Oregon Geographic Names" makes no mention of Seldom Creek or the falls. The Fremont-Winema National Forest website mentions Seldom Creek only in musty reports about replacing pipes that take the creek's water underneath Highway 140 for fish passage and a report about planned prescribed burns in the Seldom Hill area.

So, what's the story about Seldom Creek Falls?

The creek begins in the Great Meadow off Highway 140 near the Lake of the Woods. The meadow, which unusually looks like a lake because of snow melt, drains into Seldom Creek near a rest area off the highway. Less than a mile downstream the water plunges over a pair of drops, the tallest probably about 30 feet. The water spits and churns through the relatively narrow passage until it widens and slumbers in a meadow.

There are no signs and no trails to the falls. Some people take a Forest Service road off Dead Indian Memorial Highway near its junction with Highway 140. That's a route I haven't taken. The other route can begin either at the Great Meadows parking area or by parking off Highway 140 at the end of the guardrail where Highway 140 begins its descent into the Klamath Basin.

Years ago, a friend parked off the highway and led me through the woods to the falls. Recently, with a Blue Zones hiking group wanting a change from their usual walk though the Roosevelt School neighborhood, we met at the Great Meadows parking area. With the help of Larry Turner, a photographer who spends time at his family's Lake of the Woods cabin, we headed east, crossed Dead Indian and skirted Highway 140 inside the guardrail. Where the guardrail ends, we veered south, weaving through the trees.

We heard the river and rumbling falls before we saw them. We emerged just above the falls, then continued walking downstream through the brush until we reached a rocky overlook. The view of the falls is excellent, but the scramble down the sleep, slippery slope is rewarded with even more satisfying views. Several of us trampled up and down the riverbanks seeking better views, pausing to savor the sound of rumbling water, rinse off with the surprisingly warm creek water, or to, in the words of Bob Dylan, watch the river flow.

As its name says, Seldom Creek Falls is a sight and that's seldom seen.

Lee Juillerat has been writing about outdoor adventures in Southern Oregon and elsewhere for more than 30 years. He is also a regular contributor to the outdoor-travel website High On Adventure at www.highonadventure.com. He can be contacted at 337lee337@charter.net or 541-880-4139.

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